Δευτέρα, 10 Ιουλίου 2017

Journeys of thought

I've been writing since I went to school. Putting letters in sequence, to make words, stringing words along to make a sentence, adding another one and another one, in a continuous effort to make some sense. I'll be 50 this year and it was only a few years ago when someone quite close me, who was trying to help me, remarked that it seemed to him like my writing was my way of thinking.

I am a disorganised person. Constantly trying to be organised, maybe even achieving the impression of being organised, disorganised nonetheless.

Writing is my way of organising my thoughts. In fact, not even that, writing IS my thoughts. More often than not, what you read is the process of thinking about something. Of course not every piece of writing is the same, some are simple presentations of a simple thought or a memory, a series of memories even. Other times it may be more convoluted, and often it is these difficult ones that end up in my evergrowing backlog of unfinished articles...essentially unfinished thoughts.

Sometimes a phrase will stick in my mind, wanting to be put down on "paper" or rather "screen" or "bytes"... As often as not I will not get the opportunity and the thought will fly away just as quickly as it arrived.

I like to believe I am offering something. An insight maybe to the way of life, the history of my country, my thoughts, my feelings. I hope that these may be of some value. In the past I have written of things that hurt me, of difficult moments, of trials in life, and because really these experiences are not all that different to every other human being's, maybe an insight might be helpful to someone, someday, somewhere...

Today's thought is this:
I  don't like Americans.
Growing up in Greece in the 70's and 80's it was not difficult for something like this to happen. Fresh out of a collapsed military regime that was fully backed by the US, and with a Left that was still reeling from the serious persecution, torture and deaths at the hands of the junta's torturers and miltary police, who got their training, backing and blessings from the US (and the British too but that's another story) anti-American sentiment ran quite high. I remember as a child in the breaks at school we would sing between us little rhymes, like for example NATO kai CIA , prodosia... (Nato and the CIA equals treason) and other such kindergarten rhymes...

We also saw a lot of it written on the walls. As the right wing political regime (I will not call it a democracy for it was no such thing...)  that replaced the Junta, gradually lost it's majority at the elections, so did PASOK and Andreas used this anti-American sentiment to rally the Left around his so called socialist party (another joke) and win the election.

My parents had an American friend I remember. He was an officer on a 6th fleet Navy ship, maybe an aircraft carrier or something, or maybe I am completely wrong but I remember hanging out with him and his family, As a non-native speaker of English I have this stupid habit of picking up other people's accents. Very soon I was saying, something like warrah, for water, and other such americanisms much to my Mum's horror.

Yet at the same time as we (or some of us) disliked the Americans, we loved their music, their rock'n'roll, their films, the stuff they produced. Their Levi's jeans, their Timberland shoes, their Harleys, their Woodstock and Jimi Hendrix, their Lynyrd Skynyrd...

My dislike of Americans stayed with me until I read a couple of books by Bill Bryson, that gave me an insight into life there. Somehow through his books America became a place I would like to visit, and Americans a somewhat eccentric but interesting lot. On the other hand there was the Vietnam war which I had just read about and did not give me a good impression of the attitude that is so "U.S.", and other things like how the Native American Indians were mistreated, taken advantage of, and killed off.

And of course the everpresent American State, the CIA, and all those covert operations etc. that we read about, the men in black...

It wasn't easy to like them.

I also  met a few Americans of my own.

One of the first was Tristram, the surfer dude. He was (still is) this lovely hunk of a man, tall, tanned, no-bronzed!- blond, blue eyes, larger than life. He makes the meanest Margueritas, talks like a surfer dude!! He is the real deal... It is impossible not to like him. He is such an icon of that all-American California dream guy, and he is...exactly that. Real. He still is, albeit with kids and maybe a little loose around the belly, but only a little... I mean he owns a sailing boat built by his father and runs a surfshop in California... and still skates around on a longskateboard!!

Then there is Matt. (He's going to be reading this so I better watch it...) Matt  is a New Yorker. I 'm pretty sure his mum is Jewish and she is a shrink that organises group therapy sessions via telephone partylines! He is eccentric. Went through a phase of walking a lot, and smoking, not a good sign in Corfu...hahaha!! And very talented. And educated, and a thinking man. And a wonderful singer and guitar player. In fact I used to be in this band not exactly with him but we used to do gigs together and shared a bassplayer, drummer and rhythm guitarist. He is also an Elvis Costello fan and to this day if I listen to "Watching the detectives" it is his voice I hear in my head. He escaped the island and hopefully the stircraziness that goes with the island mentality... He is another classic, and entirely lovable American... The New Yorker!!

There was one American I met , who I may have found interesting as a person and attitude, but thoroughly disagreed with (the attitude especially) and to be honest he did nothing to change this inherent dislike I had. He shall remain unnamed... Although some of you will probably recognise him from the decription. He was of Greek origin but grew up there. One of a number of children exported for adoption from Greece to the States. I think he was a Republican, and a firm believer in the All-American dream... It would have been round about the time they had invaded yet another Middle Eastern country and when I told him I thought this was wrong, he told me no it was right because somebody had to do something about this dictator who had weapons of mass destruction, and that the good ole US of A where the worlds designated police and peacekeeping force and rightfully so!! It was expected of them!! He also hated the Left, and often gave me an impression of an almost McCarthyist like anti-communism... A true kid of the Cold War... I seem to remember he had some connection with the Armed Forces and I would not be surprised if he was some kind of spy or intelligence officer. If I remember well he was a Russ Limbaugh fan too. Do you know Russ Limbaugh?

... (long break of a few weeks... another unfinished thought...)

A little PS here to the above, before I continue... on to other thoughts

I have no pet hate against Americans. What I don't like about America is that in a certain way America leads the way in today's world...but unfortunately it is leading the way into a very uncertain (and in my opinion wrong) future...

Consumerism, lives that revolve around the acquisition of material goods, the TV celebrity mentality, people who only care about the latest "Survivor" reality show, brought up on sitcoms and tv dinners...

Uneducated people who don't know anything about other countries in the world, people who vote for someone like Trump, and not only, but people who idolise his kind... and people like this exist here too.

This is what America has given the world. This is what America is selling to the world. And unfortunately this is what most of the world is buying...

You know, in Greek there is an interesting insult, they say "pos eisai etsi? Amerikanaki eisai?" implying someone who is naive, loves the american way of life, the whole consumer/mcdonalds/starbucks thing... Once upon a time it had a weight as an insult, nowadays, most young Greeks are so, so it does not get used much...

and on to other thoughts...

I've been reading this very interesting (to me) book written by Michal Palin, that lovable "Python"... It is called New Europe and was written to complement his travel documentary tv series of the same name. The book and the series are about his travels through what he calls the New Europe, the countries that were behind the Iron Curtain once.

I have written in the past about one of the deepest issues in greek politics, the deep historical rift between the Right and the Left. And reading through Palin's book, it becomes immediately obvious that in almost every country there is a similar situation. After WW2 the world was divided into spheres of influence, the leaders of the winning side, splitting up the world...

Capitalism vs Communism, Right vs Left, call it what you like, they have both failed. Reading through Palin's book, in most places where there was communist rule, and now there isn't, the old age pensioners are suffering, and reminisce in many cases about the good old days, when they were better taken care of. Different countries, but the message is more or less the same, "we had less freedom, but we had more food on the table, we had something..." In every country you see more or less the same, a loss of the middle class, a bigger division between the increasingly rich and the increasingly poor...

We really need a new direction. The old Left-Right thing is, for me a thing of the past, which refuses to let go. And don't even think about aking "what about the Center?" In Greece the center is now non-existent. (come to think of it so is the left...) I think the Center was always just an easy option for those who didn't want to make up their minds and preffered to stand in the middle ready to go either way, depending on the way things were shaping up...opprtunists really.

Yes. The more I think of it the only way is up. Somehow mankind, the human race, we need to rise above our present lowly, greedy, selfish ways, to somewhere above. Somewhere where we can maybe make do with less, at least on the face of it, but where we stand to gain much, much more, of the things that are really important in life.

Eventually you grow up and realise, that the important things are not power or what you have, but love and care for yourself, for your family, for the people around you, in ever extending ripples, ripples of caring and goodness extending out from each one of us and from every good deed that we do.

Love can never be capitalist or communist, left or right, or even Muslim or Christian...

wake up world...   rise above... there is a better way.


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